The winner of the 2022 Best of the Bottom Drawer Prize is announced…
Catherine Swire has won this year’s Best of the Bottom Drawer prize with her book Dozen: Ash, Flame, Feather - a singular memoir about the trauma of losing her sister Flora in the Lockerbie bombing and how raising chickens helped her through her grief.
The global writing prize from The Black Spring Press Group saw over 350 writers, poets and playwrights from around the world compete and everyone was encouraged to submit that book that had been long lingering at the bottom of the writing desk drawer, too odd, or eccentric, or difficult, or experimental, to get a publishing deal so far…
Head judge, publisher Dr Todd Swift, says of the winning entry: ‘Swire’s book about trauma and loss in the context of the Lockerbie tragedy is magnificently tender – poetic, playful, erudite, and informative – it seems to generate its very own literary form – all the way reminding us of the power of memoir, to testify, inspire, and comfort.’
On her win Catherine says, ‘I am so grateful for this prize and to the Black Spring Press group for publishing Dozen: Ash, Flame, Feather. My hope is that it helps others facing trauma and other thinkers and artists exploring the impact of sudden loss. The chickens in this book work as metaphors for terror and creation, but they are also, centrally, birds. I hope the book not only opens up thought in a difficult area (and in a culture that can often deride it) but also affirms the transformative agency of our bond with other creatures. Also that it sometimes makes you smile.’
Dozen: Ash, Flame, Feather will be published in 2023 in time for the London Book Fair.
About the author: Catherine Swire read English at Oxford and went on to postgraduate study in Canada. Her collection of poems, Soil explores the way that trauma is translated by landscape. The poems were featured this year on Radio 4’s Ramblings and at Ledbury Poetry Festival. This year Catherine will lead poetry workshops from Kent to the Highlands and she teaches young adults in Worcester.